Santi closure official

Santi owner Doug Swett has confirmed the closure of Santi Restaurant in Fountaingrove.

In a statement issued Saturday, he stated that “the protracted downturn in the economy proved too much to overcome” and said that he deeply regretted having to shutter the restaurant.

On Tuesday, a sign appeared in the window of the restaurant stating a kitchen fire had temporarily closed the restaurant. Restaurant insiders almost immediately started buzzing about what was going on, stating that staff had been let go that day. It was also well known inside the restaurant industry that the restaurant had been struggling to pay vendors for several months. Sources close to the restaurant indicated Swett had hoped to save the restaurant at the eleventh hour by raising additional capital, but was unsuccessful.

The closure is troubling, due in part to the success of the restaurant for more than a decade in its Geyserville location. Swett and his team moved to Santa Rosa in 2010, and lost their longtime chef, Liza Hinman, last winter when she went on maternity leave. Sous chef Doug Richey took over the kitchen in 2011.

According to Swett’s statement: “I am proud of the fact that Santi leaves a legacy, with former Chefs opening two successful restaurants, Diavola in Geyeserville and Scopa in Healdsburg. Although our tenure at Fountaingrove was short, I will miss the many new friends and patrons who became part of the Santi “ family” , and have only great things to say about the support of our business colleagues at Fountaingrove Center, the Carinalli family and Traverso’s.”

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, BiteClubEats.com is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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22 Comments

  1. Does anybody know the legal standing of the gift certificates that Santi issued ? Is Santi required to repay them, are holders of the certificates creditors?
    ???

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    • Usually you’re out of luck. Sometimes the owners will try to make good, but if and when they are able to repay people, usually its producers and vendors who have their hands out first. I’d cut your losses. If I hear otherwise, I’ll let you know.

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  2. Sorry, I ain’t buyin the “economic downturn” story. The parking lot was ALWAYS packed (and yes, even after Traverso’s had closed) so they were doing a pretty good business. I gotta laugh at people saying it’s a “bad location for any business” when Traverso’s has tripled theirs since moving. George told me they “should have done it years ago”. I think there’s more we’re not being told (as in the “kitchen fire” had underlying meaning).

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  3. Really, REALLY looked forward to their coming, the old place was legendary.
    Maybe I’m just cheap, but it seemed that instead of a lot of rich food for a reasonable price in a family atmosphere they changed into just another expensive place, too much money for too little food and a bit to much formality. Too quiet, too fancy, way too expensive, just “OK” service.
    If they would have simply done, in a different location, what they had done in the old one they would be going strong.
    No joy in seeing them go, we were planning to return based on the changes. It wasn’t Bad, just not as great as it could have been if they just would have stuck to what works.
    But then, I miss Mama Angalina’s on courthouse square, still waiting for a place to compare to that at a price that doesn’t break the budget for a working man (note; if you’re charging more than the average joe makes for an hour’s wage for your entrees you’d better be in the K&L Bistro league)

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  4. I loved their place in Geyerserville. Just never felt the same in FG; the ‘mojo’ wasn’t the same…

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  5. I believe santi went down for a different reason, it wasn’t an every day restaurant. The menu was not mainstream enough. They tried to be too creative, versus doing more basic Italian very well. Being in a neighborhood needs the neighbors to make the place a frequent part of the routine. For instance, “Oh honey on your way home let’s meet at santi, I’m really craving that linguini with butter beans, chicory, ligurian olives and bottarga”. Some restaurants just aren’t good and some try too hard to be too different.

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  6. I agree Fountiangrove is not a good place for a restaurant —- too stuffy and those that live on the “hill” seem to think their bathrooms don’t smell like the rest of ours… news flash – they do! As far as those that do live there being a “community of responsible citizens” that pay higher taxes to maintain FG Parkway … get over yourselves – your neighbors are doing drugs and fighting with their spouces just the same as mine are!

    So sorry to hear of this closing – Santi was yummy – I wish they would have stayed in Geyserville – the drive up there was not bad and it was out of Santa Rosa giving it an out of town feel with out driving to the City or Marin.

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  7. Well I was wrong, I originally gave them 6 months, Living in Healdsburg I wouldn’t drive that much out of my way to go there, not a great decision , remember….location, location…location…

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  8. Fountaingrove is just not a cool or friendly destination for the majority of us from all over the North Bay….we want great food, relaxed vibes and interesting people to interact with during or dining experience. FG seems too insulated from the real Sonoma County.

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  9. The current economy has put a financial restraint on most of the people I know. I think Santi’s Fountaingrove location was great but their prices made it hard to afford. I think any successful restaurant today has to be able to deliver consistently good food at an affordable price to keep people coming back. For example, look at one of my favorite restaurants, La Gare, as a good example of good food, good service, reasonable prices, and consistent quality. The parking is horrible there, but they still bring in returning patrons year after year. The location is not the problem especially with gas prices soaring. I wish a restaurant like La Gare would open in it’s place. La Gare East anyone?

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  10. so disappointing Santi has closed. We frequented the restaurant 10-12 times since it opened for both lunch and dinner and enjoyed the food, service and ambiance. When we were there, it was always fairly full. I find the comments about FG having bad karma more than a bit goofy! We’ve lived here for 15+ years and our neighborhood was built 25+ years ago. After the additional parking spaces were added on the street for employee use, parking in the lot was no longer a problem. I must admit the economic downturn has certainly taken a toll on our disposable income so dining out has much more infrequent and considered a luxury in the past 2 years.

    It is especially noteworthy that in our sustainable, shop local, buy local, liberal SoCo, we can’t support a local restaurant that emphasized a fresh/local/seasonal menu (note comment above about eating at Subway. The rhetoric always sounds good but locals are obviously don’t consistently walki the talk!

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  11. Such a bummer and I’m sorry to hear. I really loved all three of those businesses but still have not found it in me to venture to the Fountain Grove location! As much as I loved Traverso’s, the espresso place that used to be in Sawyers, and Santi, I never felt the ‘pull’ to go to FG :(

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  12. Everything about Fountaingrove is bad karma. I think it may be because that mountain should never have been developed. Why did you ever leave Geyserville?

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    • Fountaingrove is one of the nicest communities in Sonoma County and as a community, brings in one of the highest shares of property taxes that support this City and County. We are for the most part a community of responsible citizens and are so happy to live here. We also pay a premium bond on top of our high property taxes that pays for the Fountaingrove Parkway, a very necessary connector between East & West Santa Rosa. Think about that next time you use Fountaingrove Parkway at our expense. No bad Karma here!

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      • Dear Local Girl-

        If by “community” you mean a strip mall built on a scar that once was a ridge line then I believe that you do in fact live in a community, one that can only be accessed by a “Parkway” that should never have been built (Oh my…has the word “park” ever been more disabused?). That you pay “extra” for your “parkway” is not for our benefit as without the “parkway” you would be unable to otherwise reach your overly large, unsustainable manse. Would you consider paying a special tax to the Santa Rosa general fund as compensation for being part of an aesthetic abomination? It’d be like 1% for art…we could call it “!0% for Overconsumption.” Deal?

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        • Hey, Soren – Lighten up! Finger shaking self-righteousness is enormously counter productive. Fountain Grove is what it. Take all that energy and look forward, not back. Clearly, you have energy to give to change.

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        • Soren, I bet you’re just loads of fun. What’s with all the hate, haters?

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  13. Weird since the last thing I remember is that there wasn’t enough parking spaces for both Santi & Traversos customers. Now Santi is closing due to the “downturn” ? I don’t think a restaurant is a good fit for the space next to Traversos due to parking issues there. Personally I was avoiding going to Traverso’s due to the parking problems caused by having Santi & Traversos there but now that seems to have worked itself out and I will be going back to Traverso’s more often.

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  14. Fountain Grove is a terrible spot for any business. The coffee place next door is going to close as well. It might have already closed.

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    • All I can say is that I miss walking to Traverso’s. Used to be a nice walk for lunch. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve eaten at Subway more times than I’d like to admit lately.

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